DEAR AMY: I go to a small middle school/high school. It’s a pretty drug-free environment, at least the one that my friends and I inhabit.
However, my parents (particularly my mom) are under the impression that all my friends (one in particular) are always off doing drugs. I am certain that my friends are drug-free. But I’m afraid that if I tell my mom this, she will tell me I’m being naive, think I’m covering for them or doing drugs myself!
I think she did stuff like that when she was younger, because she had a tough childhood. I’ve got it easy compared to her. How do I convince her that my friends aren’t going down the same path? -- Drug Free
DEAR DRUG FREE: First of all, good for you. When distressing statistics about drug use among teenagers are trumpeted through the media, I always think about the other side of the statistic, the kids who aren’t engaging in this destructive behavior.
Your mother seems frantic to make sure you’re safe. Unfortunately, she may have gone overboard, and instead of opening a dialogue with you she is slamming the door shut. The way around this is for you to do what your mother cannot: Ask an open-ended question, listen to the answer and engage in a conversation instead of a lecture.
Here’s how you can start: “Mom, I know how worried you are about drugs at my school. What was it like when you were in high school?”
Don’t expect your mother to admit to drug use, but listen to her description and say to her, “For all the kids who do use drugs, there is an equal amount who don’t. I know you worry, but my friends and I are those kids.” Tell your mom how lucky you feel and assure her that she has done a solid job of raising you. You can also allay your parents’ fears by allowing them to get to know your friends. Invite them over.
DEAR AMY: I have a friend who is quite beautiful. My problem is that I have surpassed my limit for the number of times a person can sing her own praises! I cannot bear to hear another long story about how pretty she is, how someone told her she was beautiful or how something awesome happened because she was the most stunning person.
How can I get the self-compliments to end? I’d hate to lose a good friend, but I cannot bear this anymore. -- Frustrated Friend
DEAR FRIEND: You have to wonder why someone so beautiful would be so insecure that she would have to point it out constantly. Let me pass along my mother’s favorite quote: “Handsome is as handsome does.” I take this to mean that a person’s deeds are the true key to beauty. Beautiful people never need to shine a light upon themselves.
If this is a true and intimate friendship, and if you are at the breaking point about this, you should be able to ask her about her behavior and reflect upon it. You get to say how her behavior affects you and how it makes you feel.
You can start by saying, “You are beautiful. But you point it out so often I wonder: Do you really know that? It’s like you’re trying to convince me. It also makes your looks the headline of everything that happens during your day. Surely, some of the good stuff in your life is due to other reasons?”
DEAR AMY: I’m enjoying the comments in your column about Christmas gift exchanges. One year it was my turn to write each gift recipient’s name on pieces of paper that were drawn out of a hat at Thanksgiving for the Christmas exchange. Gee, that year all the names were mine (the gifts were small). As they say, a few weeks later, “hilarity ensued.” -- Family Clown
DEAR CLOWN: Sometimes, hilarity is in the eye of the beholder. And that year, you were definitely the beholder!
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